Forskargruppe i mellomalderfilologi

Forskargruppen presenterer

In the Beginning was a Murder: Bodily Metaphors in Creation Myths

Jan Kozák (Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Charles University in Prague) presents preliminary research from his project on bodily metaphors in creation myths.


An illustration depicting the death of Ymir
An illustration depicting the death of Ymir.

In the Beginning was a Murder: Bodily Metaphors in Creation Myths

The mytheme of the creation of the world from a body of killed or sacrificed human or animal is attested in many cultures around the globe. In the Indo-European area it has been studied extensively by comparativists and summarized by Bruce Lincoln in his 1986 classic „Myth, Cosmos, and Society“. We will start by overviewing this mytheme, with specific attention to Indian and Old Norse sources, but the main focus of the talk will be the postulation of several underlying principles that might help us provide tentative answers to the question „why?“ – „Why is this mytheme so common?“, „Why is human body associated with the world creation?“ – „Why are certain body parts connected systematically with certain world elements?“ etc. This new theoretical approach emerges as an original intersection between cognitive linguistics, gestalt psychology and symbolic anthropology and has the ambition of being applicable to cultures and mythemes outside the area discussed in the talk. Special attention will be given to cognitive metaphors, metonymies and synecdoches and their roles as structuring principles of mythic thought. Discussions with researchers specializing in both related and unrelated cultures will be welcome, as well as feedback on the theory itself as it is currently in statu nascendi.

Jan Kozák, PhD., is a lecturer at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at the Charles University in Prague. This project is funded by a Marie Curie-Sklodowska Individual Fellowship (Horizon 2020). 


The lecture is open and everyone intestested is welcome!